Empty shelves at eThekwini’s water and sanitation depots as filmed by a DA inspection.
Empty shelves at eThekwini’s water and sanitation depots as filmed by a DA inspection.

Water outages under the spotlight

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Apr 10, 2021

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Durban - Ethekwini Municipality has hit back at claims by the DA that water outages in the city and surrounds are a result of not having the materials to fix burst pipes, leaks and meters.

Yesterday, Friday, DA councillor Mzamo Billy released a statement on an oversight visit made to the Water and Sanitation depots in Springfield and Pinetown with councillors Zamani Khuzwayo and Hlengiwe Shozi.

He said the visit was made because of "the high number of water-related complaints which are not being resolved, leaving residents without water for days and even weeks“.

"What we came to witness is shocking. Both in Springfield and Pinetown depots, the store shelves which are supposed to have material to help plumbers to fix leaks and burst pipes in the city are completely empty," he said, adding that there was a serious shortage of fittings for the day-to-day operations of the department.“

He also said plumbers "have to resort to digging in the depot rubbish to try and find old material that can be reused, to try and resolve a complaint“.

A video of the visit was shared with the release, showing some shelves empty or holding barely stocked boxes, while other shelves had stock.

Yesterday, Friday, municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela responded by saying it was "very incorrect" of the DA to allege water outages were a result of low stock and that load shedding had played a role in pumps being badly affected, leading to water outages.

"Like any other city, we have recently been severely affected by load shedding which impacted negatively on Umgeni Water being able to pump water to feed our reservoirs," said Mayisela, adding that the mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda "gave instruction that certain pump stations must be exempted from load shedding and with such noble decision, we expeditiously overcame the challenge of water outages which were as a result of circumstances that were way beyond our control“.

Mayisela also said the city had been experiencing challenges with cable theft in some of the water pump stations, as well as illegal connections to the city infrastructure "resulting in it being overburdened and occasionally causing water outages in certain settlements“.

He said water tankers were always sent to affected areas.

Umgeni Water corporate stakeholder manager Shami Harichunder said that during the most recent load shedding, their pump station at Inanda Dam was exempted from load shedding and an application had been made to eThekwini Municipality to exempt the pump station at Wiggins Water Works from planned electricity interruptions and a decision is awaited.

Harichunder said the Wiggins Water Works and Durban Heights Water Works, Inanda Dam, along with Albert Falls Dam and Midmar Dam were all crucial to the drinking water supply to the Durban region, saying "significant parts of the city receive water that is treated at Durban Heights Water Works and Wiggins Water Works".

"Raw water is currently supplied from Inanda Dam to Durban Heights Water Works for treatment and supply to the reservoirs of eThekwini. An adequately functioning pump station at Inanda Dam is therefore imperative to ensure uninterrupted raw supply to Durban Heights," said Harichunder, while uninterrupted water treatment processes were also crucial to the provision of drinking water.

He added that if load shedding resumed and if the Wiggins Water Works was to be exempted from load shedding, "there will be no negative impact on water treatment and supply“.

The Independent on Saturday

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